The man is huge. His chest and shoulders appear to be miles broad, his biceps are watermelon-size, and his head sits upon a neck as thick as a fire hydrant. But every strongman has his kryptonite, and for Dennis (pro-bodybuilder Kim Kold), it’s talking to women. Barely able to hold up his end of a dinner conversation, our painfully shy protagonist has to make small talk with an apology for not eating his seafood appetizer. (“I didn’t know there’d be shrimp in it,” he mumbles. “It’s a shrimp cocktail!” his date exclaims.) Dennis is content to pump iron and live at home with his diminutive, domineering mom (Elsebeth Steentoft), until his uncle marries a woman he “met” in Thailand. One cover story later, Dennis is strolling around Bangkok, looking for love in all the wrong places.
An extension of a 2007 short film by Danish filmmaker Mads Matthiesen, Teddy Bear might have simply coasted on the cognitive dissonance between its gentle giant’s bulky physique and his meek personality. That it goes far beyond such easy routes can almost single-handedly be attributed to Kold; as his character deflates with aching loneliness, radiates hope when a potential romantic interest appears or displays shame at a late-act loss of nerve, you actually forget you’re watching someone acting. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say Kold gives what may be the performance of the year—one that not only offsets the movie’s momentary dips into self-conscious quirkiness but
adds a genuine sweetness to the proceedings. Forget the muscles; he brings the heart and soul.
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